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Look at these two sentences:

Companies use many methods to expand their business.
Companies use many methods to expand their businesses.

Which sentence is correct? The issue here is about subject-complement agreement. According to Grammar Girl, you can relax. Either option is probably fine because your meaning is usually obvious. It’s likely you mean that any one company has many ways to expand its own business. It’s unlikely that you’re commenting on the many businesses that any one company may run.

Ask students to open their textbook and start reading.
Ask students to open their textbooks and start reading.

Either one of these is okay too. It’s likely you’re implying that every student has one textbook, and it’s the same textbook. It’s unlikely you’re talking about the many textbooks any student may have or that there’s only one textbook and the students are sharing it.

However, if your sentence still seems unclear or crazy sounding, as Grammar Girl puts it, reword your sentence or give other details about how many items you’re talking about. See Grammar Girl’s explanation of subject-complement agreement here.

febtodolist
The beginning of the year means new projects, personal or otherwise, and it might mean updating or cleaning up your resume. So this month, I offer a $25 resume review. I can work with your Microsoft® Word document or a PDF file. For more information, just contact me by email.

I will have suggestions in my review of course, but you know better what job-related content to include as you’re the expert in your industry. Remember, what would you like to see in your resume if you were the hiring manager. See my general tips for resumes here.

Microsoft is registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

slashmark
When reviewing business copy, I often notice a lot of use of the slash mark. First, besides appearing in URLs, fractions, or dates, for example, a slash is a mark that shows options: Food/drinks will be available in the patio.

This use of the slash is a bit informal and can sometimes be awkward, hence it’s probably best to avoid it or at least not overuse it. Some think the phrase “and/or” is unclear: Does the slash really mean both “and” and “or,” or does it mean just “or”? Lawyers, in particular, don’t like “and/or”—see this article for an explanation.

There is also the spacing issue around the slash. Here’s when to put space around it and when not to:

  • If the options are single words, you don’t need a space around the slash: We have a substantial promotions/signage budget.
  • If one of the options, or both options, is a phrase, put a space around the slash to help clarify what the options are: Please sign up for our e-newsletter / text message alerts here.

If you think the spacing looks a bit awkward, avoid the slash and just use words: Please sign up for our e-newsletter and text message alerts here.

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